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Talent Fest 2020: A Roundup

Last week we delivered Talent Fest 2020, a week-long skills festival for the digital sector. The festival included 6 virtual events, with 20+ hours of content, attracting 1100+ unique attendees. We had attendees at all stages of their digital careers from job seekers, through to mid-level professionals looking for a career change, through to freelancers and business leaders

In addition to supporting local job seekers, we also promoted Sussex as a great place to work to audiences further afield and welcomed people from across the UK as well as internationally from places such as San Francisco, Toronto, Berlin and Stockholm. 

We had engagement with 41 education providers across the UK and community groups such as codebar Brighton, Brighton Digital Women, The Farm and Diversity Working Group. 

A huge thank you to everyone who made the festival possible. A massive thanks to our headline sponsor American Express, as well as our sponsor Bright and supporters Plus Accounting, Cogapp, Buff Motion and Leaders Plus.

And of course a big thank you to all of our contributors for giving their time to share their expertise to inform and inspire our audience. 

Importantly the festival began with the Diversity Working Group. The Diversity Working Group was born out of last year’s Talent Fest and is a community group meeting to collectively share and improve our practice around inclusion, diversity and accessibility in the local digital sector. If you're interested in joining the Diversity Working Group, join the Slack Group and sign up for Wired Sussex event alerts to be notified when the next meeting takes place.

On Monday evening we held a Portfolio Clinic where designers had the opportunity to get 1-2-1 advice from experts on how to improve their portfolios. An advantage to hosting this event virtually was that we were able to welcome designers from all over the world, who got a chance to see what excellent studios we have in Sussex. If you were unable to attend the Portfolio Clinic you can still get tips on creating an outstanding portfolio in this blog post co-created by our experts. 

We were really impressed with the calibre of our participant’s portfolios, and it was great to hear that our experts were too:

Wow, what a fantastic evening meeting some lovely creatives with super work! It was truly inspiring and look forward to staying in touch with all who joined.
- Studio Evoke

On Tuesday morning we brought together 80+ business leaders from across our digital community to discuss Digital Leadership in the 21st Century at our Skills Summit. The event consisted of thought-provoking talks from renowned digital leaders and peer-to-peer conversations from our attendees. If you missed the event a selection of the talks are still available.

Not only did the talks speak to the ‘here & now’ in terms of the right kind of leadership they also spoke to the critical importance of inclusion
- Samantha Whittaker, The Human Change Agency

Following the Skills Summit, UX design agency Clearleft ran a practical workshop to demonstrate an open-source framework for professional development which they designed and developed. You can get an introduction to this platform on their blog

On Wednesday we held our flagship Jobs Fair. We had over 1,000+ attendees at all stages of their careers from around the world join us to be informed, inspired and empowered to progress with their digital careers. The event included industry talks, a masterclass from Google, application advice from National Careers Service and a hotline to call Wired Sussex. A number of talks are still available to view. The Jobs Fair also provided advice for freelancers: a blog post with everything you need to know about freelancing from filing your taxes to finding your community.

It was great to hear how impactful the attendees found the event:

I have been out of the creative field and thought it may be a struggle to ask for advice. I’m incredibly thankful I did as not only did I get professional and helpful advice from people in the industry, I also learnt incredible valuable resources [...] to help in moving my career forward.

The week finished with a codebar Brighton workshop, who ran a Talent Fest edition of their monthly meetup to support women, LGBTQ and people who are underrepresented in the tech industry to learn programming in a supportive and collaborative online environment.

A huge thank you once again to everyone who contributed and took part to make this our biggest festival yet. Don’t worry if you missed out, we have a programme of events throughout the year and already planning Talent Fest 2021. If you would like to find out more, I’d love to hear from you.

About the author

Rebecca Groves

Hi, I'm Wired Sussex's Skills and Talent Strategy Lead. I oversee our skills and talent strategy for the regional digital sector. This includes the delivery of activity which addresses this strategy, such as our annual Talent festival, and working with members to help them benefit from our initiatives.

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